Friday, 20 February 2009

Further thoughts...

I have been wondering why I felt it necessary to spend my time considering the thoughts of another man - who is now dead and unable to defend himself. Part of me felt that perhaps I was displacing part of my own process onto him - that I was using him in order to avoid looking at my own stuff. There is a partial truth to this - but only a partial truth. I do not feel that my last posting was in any way inappropriate or unjustified, but I do accept that some of my reactions to the tapes I heard was conditioned by my own stuff. Part of which is a male resistance to the strictures propounded by another male. There were certainly times when childhood buttons of a defensive reaction to the authoritarian male were pushed. Times when the particular details of my own biography predisposed me to certain reactions. There were times when, listening to his voice on the tape took me back to times when male voices spoke to me of my own inadequacies. All this is true.

And this is part of my unease at the tone of his message - and. to be fair, the message of most other proponents of patriarchal thought in all its manifestations - from the Pope to the Ayatollahs to anti-porn feminist crusaders. In a nutshell, what they are all saying is that they alone - and those who agree with them - are in possession of the truth and that all that is necessary is that they are listened to and followed.

I reject all such claims. I can accept the authority of teachers who speak from their own lives - who tell of how they have struggled - who speak of their experience - but not those who, without any hint of humour and irony - proclaim that they have an indisputable truth.

Patriarchal thought does not allow of the personal. It speaks of absolutes - it speaks of what we must believe and do in order to be saved. It is based on authority and does not allow any denial or demurral. It does not admit to any possibility of fallibility - proclaiming instead divine authority for every word spoken. This is what I heard in Long's declarations = not reflections on experience but a formula for life.

Why should I accept this? What evidence does he produce apart from unsubstantiatable assertion? None at all. And, to be fair, none is possible. He is speaking of areas of human experience in which empirical method does not apply. It is, of necessity, beyond such discourse - being totally within the realms of subjective, non-verifiable, experience. You can either believe or disbelieve - neither choice being capable of justification or verification by any objective criteria.

I have no problem with such uncertainty. To me, it is a given that I cannot speak for anybody else's experience and that I really have no idea what is best for them. This is totally OK. Goddess forbid that I should begin to believe that I should presume to speak for another. Her or his experience is not mine and can never be. All I can do is to listen and try to understand or empathise. I cannot KNOW and can never KNOW.

Which is, as far as I understand it, absolutely OK. If this makes for a world hopelessly relativistic, so be it. That is a fact of life. Each and every one of us is different and there can be no one-size-fits-all spirituality - no off-the-shelf nostrums that will cure all our ills. There is no spiritual huckster who can deliver the universal snake oil no matter how much it may be desired. And such remedies are certainly desired - for few really feel comfortable with the responsibility that self- determination and true sovereignty and autonomy demand. It is far more comfortable to hand it all over to some authority that will tell us how we can be saved - particularly if that voice is male.

What is difficult is the place of growth - of self-realisation that Goddess calls us to, For here there is no easy formula - no rules to blindly follow. She calls us to take full responsibility for who we are - to owning our history and our responses and not judging them by criteria that are not our own. This is a difficult and uncomfortable place of uncertainty and doubt. But it is so very human. And it is the place She meets us.

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